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Analysis

Hamlet as Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis Plot

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : None

Wait, what?

Yep: Christopher Booker's specially cites Hamlet as counterexample to his theory of basic plots. According to Booker, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark doesn't actually fit into the mold of the tragedy at all. (Be sure to check out our discussion of "Genre" for more about Hamlet and tragedy).

Sure, Hamlet has an anticipation stage of being frustrated by his mother's remarriage, but what should follow —the dream stage, when Hamlet feels like he is accomplishing his revenge goal —never happens. He just can't do it: he spends most of the play searching for more reasons for revenge or yelling at himself for not having done anything at all. The whole play is an endless frustration stage with no dream stage preceding it —not to mention that Hamlet expresses the death wish, which should come at the end, almost from his first lines.

Booker also points out that Hamlet has some elements of the "Rebirth" plot, since Hamlet seems to be struggling for most of the play under the dark shadow of his own mysterious delay. But Hamlet's calm readiness for death in the final act doesn't exactly seem like a redemption. For Booker, Hamlet is in a class by itself.

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